I'm going to give Joseph Andrew Stack the benefit of the doubt and
assume that he wasn't a person who would ever have put a gun to
someone's head and pulled the trigger.
That said, I don't want to
write off what happened in Austin, Texas, the other day as only the act
of someone whose mind had snapped. Stack still had enough of his mental
faculties to drive to the airport, get into his plane and fly it to a
So the truth has to lie somewhere other than total evil or complete insanity.
not even certain it was a political act. His online manifesto contained
attacks on politicians of all stripes, and he certainly wasn't a
"The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."
greatest anger, of course, was directed at the Internal Revenue
Service. He apparently had a tax problem that cost him $40,000 and
wiped out most of what he had saved for his retirement.
He felt desperate, speaking of "a storm raging in my head."
on both sides will try to use this story for their own political ends.
Those on the left will speak of growing right-wing anger and domestic
terrorism, but I don't think they would be right. Folks on the right
would argue that it's an example of people so burdened by taxes that
they snap, but I don't think that's all that's left.
I think we
have a society where the people running things -- both in government
and in the private sector -- are so out of touch with average folks
that they might as well be living in a different world. As wide as the
gap has become between the middle class and the wealthy, we're on the
verge of 21st century feudalism.
Sure, you get to own your own home -- if you're lucky.
Sure, you get to make some basic decisions about your life -- what kind of car to drive, where to order your take-out pizza.
too many people live their lives in a constant state of anxiety, and
too many of the things that make them anxious are beyond their control.
Face it. You can own your own home and have $100,000 in the bank, but
if you lose your job ... if you become seriously ill ... if all sorts
of things happen, you can find yourself on the edge before you know it.
in the fact that there are loud voices on both sides -- authoritative
voices -- stirring the anger stew for their own gain and life can be
almost unbearable for a lot of people.
What good did it do
anyone when those of us on the left argued for eight years that Dubya
Bush had stolen the 2000 election? And what good does it do now when
folks on the right continue their argument that Barack Obama wasn't
born in this country.
All it does on both sides is turn irritation into anger, disagreement into hatred.
live in a maelstrom of bad feelings, and most of us have done our part
to make things worse. I know I myself am guilty of that and I regret it.
So I will say a prayer for the soul of Joseph Andrew Stack and hope that he has found peace in the arms of God.
Would that the rest of us could find more peace here on Earth.